How Small are the Regional Gaps? How Small is the Impact of Cohesion Policy? A Commentary on the Fifth Report on Cohesion Policy (2011:1epa)

The Commission’s Fifth Cohesion Report provides a wealth of new data on social, economic and territorial trends in Europe. This gives an excellent basis for discussing the future of cohesion policy, but the questions asked by the Commission in its consultation are too narrow.

In this European Policy Analysis, Professor Daniel Tarschys argues that the intra-national gaps between European regions are much smaller than is normally reported. The standard EU measure of disparities fails to take into account the considerable equalisation impact of national policies. When it comes to employment, the Report focuses on gross gains while disregarding the jobs that are lost through the funding of cohesion policy. The quantity of evaluation carried out is impressive, but not its average quality. Econometric analyses offer useful insights, but the Commission unfortunately misinterprets its own findings. As a result, it presents grossly exaggerated claims about the macroeconomic impact of cohesion policy

The report is part of the research project The EU Budget.

Daniel Tarchys is Professor Emeritus in Political Science and Public Administration at Stockholm University and a member of SIEPS Academic Network